First, I would like to apologize for not updating as frequently as I would like. The past week has been filled with tasks, a probable cause trial, as well as my computer refusing to connect to the internet. Obviously, the last problem is fixed!
Today marks 2 months since J gave the ultimate sacrifice. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect today, since thankfully it was far less busy than normal. It has really been in the past week, that I have began to realize how my life is slowly returning to normal. I was confused as to how I felt about this for a few days because for a little while I felt that I wasn’t “honoring” my fallen officer. Then, like always I realized, through reflection, how insane that feeling was. I’ve been working with Little Man on recognizing how he feels and whether or not it is a valid and productive emotion. So many people keep telling me “anything you feel is normal.” While that statement may be true, we are working on whether or not it is a productive emotion. Yes, I agree, sometimes a person just needs to cry whether anything productive comes of it or not; however, feeling all of these emotions is physically draining. I just feel I would rather be feeling and processing emotions that are actually productive in the healing process.
For instance, let me explain the theory behind this. A few weeks ago, the surround sound system wasn’t working. C told me, “well if Daddy didn’t go walk out in front of that car, then the surround system would be working.” First, we went over how daddy didn’t walk out in front of a car, and then we worked on thinking through this feeling. I knew the thought made sense to him. Daddy was the person who fixed electronics around our house; therefore, if he were still alive, the surround system would already be fixed. It makes sense in the mind of a 5 year old, and honestly, I’ll admit, there have been numerous times in the past 2 months where I’ve felt the same way; however, it is faulty reasoning. It spins wheels, and it gets us no where. And because of that it causes us to waste energy on something that will never bear fruit, and will never allow us to establish a new normal. Those kinds of thoughts pull us back into the black hole and attempt to hold us hostage. They force us into being held captive by our own perception of our reality. In an attempt to free myself for longer periods of time, the purpose of this post is to reflect on how far we have come in 2 months, and to remind myself of how many positives have come out of my husband’s sacrifice.
There is no possible way to describe to you all of the lessons I’ve learned, all of the strength I’ve developed, and of the mistakes I’ve made in the past 2 months; however, I told a friend today, I feel that I’m starting to like the person I’m becoming. Little by little every day. So in an effort to remind myself how far we’ve come, I’ll touch on the highlights of our journey thus far. Plus understand that by “highlights,” I mean the events and thoughts that caused the most growth and reflection in either C or me. As I began to write this post, I had no general direction in mind, but the one word that just keeps popping into my mind is- perception.
Perception is the puppet master of our reality. Reality is subjective. Our view of reality is changed based upon our perception, and often times people live their entire lives truly believing they are viewing reality; however, they aren’t. It takes a lot of effort and work to be able to separate the emotions, morals, and past pain that clouds our view of reality. In order to truly reflect, one has to push past perception, and look at reality. And, let me just tell you, that is a difficult thing to do.
2 months ago, I thought I was living in reality. 2 months ago, when I answered my door at 12:40 am, and we rushed to the hospital, I thought I was living in reality. How much more real can it be to know that your husband was hit by a car, and it’s highly probable he won’t make it? From the moment I answered the door, I put on my “in control, graceful, reserved face,” and I faced what I thought was “reality.” However, looking back now I wasn’t really actually facing reality. I just pretended to accept it. It wasn’t until 1 am of the following day, that I got my first dose in truly facing reality. Thankfully, it was at the hands of an amazing friend. I kept thinking “he’ll be okay. He’s strong. We’ll make it through this.” And really, there is a time to be optimistic. Optimism is an important component in the healing process. I’ve always been an advocate for remaining optimistic. It bothered me when people weren’t. However, that morning, reality hit me, and I was forced to become a realist. I’ve never had a problem with people who are realist; however, I really just liked my world of rainbows, sunshine, and glitter. I liked pretending to face reality. It’s a defense mechanism. It kept me sane, and it allowed me to do my job well; however, at this point in my life, it was clouding my ability to do what was right by my husband.
As an officer’s wife, we had discussed final preparations long before he answered his last call. And during those discussions, I listened, I agreed, but I never really believed that I would ever be putting this “theories” into action. My optimistic side would always win, and I would agree with J simply in order to finally get to change the subject. Yes, in the depths of my mind, I knew that being killed in the line of duty was a chance he took daily; however, in order to survive and perform daily tasks, I had to be optimistic. And there was nothing wrong with that at the time. It allowed me to get what I needed done.
Optimism definitely has its place in a person’s life; however, on the night of June 14th and the early morning hours of June 15, my optimism wasn’t allowing me to put aside my own selfish desire to keep him here. Because J loved me and understood the gravity of his job, he ensured I knew what he wanted. Unless you’re an officer’s wife, it would be difficult to explain to you how these conversations were out of an unfailing and unchanging love for me and C. Therefore, when my optimistic rose colored glasses were literally yanked from my face and shattered in front of me, I didn’t know what to do for a moment. I wasn’t sure where to go from there, reality was staring me in the face and was expecting me to make decisions that I knew the answer to but didn’t want to make. Thankfully, that night, I wasn’t alone. And, I haven’t been since that night. That night, in a small waiting room with one of J’s best friends who quickly has become one of my closest friends, I didn’t face reality alone. Optimism was a comfort zone for me- my safety net. It caused my perception of the situation to be my “reality.” In the end, the decisions had to be made – so I made them. I faced reality. A reality that meant, J was never coming home with us. A reality that meant I just became a single parent. A reality that meant a wonderful mother had to say goodbye to her first born, that his sisters and brothers would have to continue life without their oldest brother. A reality that meant one more hero joined the black background of the thin blue line. A reality that meant the love of my life, my rock, and my best friend, was joining his maker. However, because I faced reality, I got one more chance to demonstrate my unfailing and unconditional love for my husband. Because someone helped me face reality, I got to honor my husband by honoring his final wishes. What more could I give him at this point? He knew how much I loved him, but the decisions I made that night and throughout the days that followed, allowed me and so many others to demonstrate our love and level of respect for the ultimate sacrifice he made that night. And because of my ability to face reality, I still to this day look back on the events that happened right before his death, and I distinctly remember a feeling of peace. Yes, even though he was dying, I felt at peace. I knew it was right, and I knew that I was demonstrating my love for him by allowing him to leave us. My acceptance of reality that night allowed me to let him go in a way he wanted to go.
One would think that maybe my battle with accepting reality ended there. There you go being optimistic too! 🙂 It took me probably a good 1 and half months to accept that my husband was really gone and what that meant for C and me. I had accepted the reality that he was dead, but I hadn’t accepted what that meant for roles in this new reality. I still felt at peace about the decisions I had made, and I still do to this day. In that time period, I created a perception in other people’s mind. I convinced them I was okay. However, in reality, I was far from it. I drifted aimlessly, lost track of time, felt numb, and I know all of those are normal reactions; however, I hated experiencing them. So instead of facing the reality of my new roles, I just created a perception, a false pretense of them. I convinced myself I would be okay – eventually, just keep surviving. My optimistic self, thought I could get over this on my own, and that I could just make everyone believe I was fine. This self-created perception worked quite nicely for me until the pre-trials and legal proceedings began to happen.
And, then ONCE again, reality seemed to slap me in the face. I’ve written quite frequently on my desire to see the good in all, another form of optimism. These past few pre-trials have shattered my perception of humanity. The easiest way to describe this would be to say that my understanding of the “us vs them” mentality became crystal clear through the past 2 pre-trials. After Tuesday’s probable cause hearing, I wanted nothing more than to be able to put my perception glasses back on, and create a “reality” in which I wanted to live; however, this is no longer an option. I thought I had a firm grasp on what it meant to be an officer’s wife, up until I entered those pre-trials. And now even after my officer’s death, I’m still learning lessons about what it takes to be an officer’s wife. While I still see the good in a tremendous amount of people, my eyes have been opened to the reality my husband faced daily. I could be upset or scared by this, but I feel like it’s just knowledge I’m armed with. It makes me more observant and sometimes even more charismatic of people. I fought seeing the bad in the world, but I had to accept that as reality in order to continue to move forward. I’ve been forever changed because of the events of the past 2 months.
I’m by no means saying that being optimistic is always harmful or that people who are optimistic are hurting themselves. I agree there is a place for optimism in our lives. Often times it is a necessity given the circumstances; however, I feel that it is much easier sometimes to just allow ourselves to continue to perceive the world the way we want to. Perception is our justification for why things happen. Why a loved one said something that hurt us or why we fall back into our old habits; however, often times perception keeps us from growing as a person. It clouds our judgment and holds us back. Perception is often times made up of past hurt, lessons, fears, and ideas that overpower our ability to see a situation in its truest colors. It allows us to make up excuses for other’s behaviors. I’m not saying that past lessons shouldn’t be taken into consideration when making decisions about one’s future. Obviously they should, I just think that we get caught up in how we perceive something, that we forget to realize the fact that God and his plan are our reality. Sometimes as humans, in our journey of faith, we need a reality check. We need a person or event that causes our “worldly perception” glasses to shatter. To allow us to stop making up excuses for why people hurt us, or why we have to “grow up” and make difficult decisions. It’s easier to revert back to what we know, our comfort zone, than to venture out into that scary world of reality. It’s easier to sacrifice our own happiness than to actually accept the reality of our own happiness. So, in short, we don’t grow as much as we could, and we don’t make as much of a difference as we could.
What I’ve learned over the past 2 months is that in the end, sometimes life gives one hundred reasons to cry. Acceptance of reality is what allows us to look at those 100 reasons to cry, and then turn around and find 1,000 more to smile.
I know this post seems black and write. It’s not. There is no back and white in my life right now. My reality is gray. A reality that is often times difficult to accept; however, it far more bright because of my ability to understand that I have no other choice. This is my destiny. And even though J gave the ultimate sacrifice, I’m still an officer’s wife and a mother to an amazingly smart 5 year old who just started Kindergarten today. My battle to accept reality isn’t over. I still battle it daily and often times hourly. To force myself to live in reality, and to incorporate optimism is difficult. Finding a balance often times seems impossible. However, because I am accepting the idea that God gave me this reality, has allowed me to realize that He expects me to do something with this reality. The acceptance that J is gone, allows me to begin to honor him in ways I felt were impossible a few months ago. It gives me the courage to pursue my dreams, while also honoring my husband. And, it’s what also allowed me to listen to my “baby” tell me he hated pre-k, and to accept that he was ready to move to kindergarten, even if I didn’t think I was ready for him to.
In the end, being the pink behind the thin blue line of my fallen husband is my reality. It’s the means by which I want to define myself right now, and maybe even for quite some time. Accepting my reality has freed me. And, it’s allowing me to slowly like who I am becoming. Accepting reality allowed me to hit rock bottom, but then to slowly begin to climb back up. This climb, this journey are going to make me and my Little Man into the people we are destined to be.